Happy 2023! It’s almost release day for a series of horror short stories revolving around Friday the 13th. I will be sharing each story on my post, one per day. Today, I’m pleased to welcome Stephen B King (NO, not THAT Stephen King – he’sthe Australian one.) with his story, The Grimoire of Caligari…
After having 16 books published, I can honestly say I had the most fun I’ve ever had writing The Grimoire of Caligari. My loyal readers know that mostly I write serious psychological thrillers featuring serial killers. A study of the mind when it fractures, is a subject that has always fascinated me. A good friend of mine is a well renowned psychologist (though he works in high stress level recruitment, such as underground mining etc) and my youngest daughter has a degree in criminal psychology and justice (the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree) – both have given me invaluable insights into varying psychosis. I think we would all agree, serial killers must be insane in some form, or another, wouldn’t we? Mass murderers are ‘my thing,’ much to my wife’s chagrin, and I love writing about them.
In this story I was able to tell a tale not only steeped in my favorite subject, but I could also add the dark horror element of trying to reanimate the dead (a respectful nod to my more famous namesake) along with medieval history. Once I had the inspiration of Lucian Brufos’ struggle with deepest grief and guilt imaginable, the words flowed from me as if from a faucet I couldn’t turn off. It was as if they were coming through me, not from me; if that makes sense?
I believe that guilt can be one of the most powerful triggers for psychotic episodes, and poor Lucian blames himself entirely for the tragic death of his wife and twin daughters. Under such circumstances, who of us would not want to bring our loved ones back to life if we possibly could? When Lucian meets The Dark Man, who calls himself Jolly, (a character I have featured in two previous books: Glimpse, the Tender Killer, and Glimpse, the Angel Shot) he is flung headlong into the search for The Grimoire of Caligari. Caligari was a famous wizard who was burnt at the stake by the Catholic Church in Italy five hundred years before. Jolly assures Lucian he knows where the Grimoire had been buried, and that it contains the spells necessary to assist in a black magic ceremony to bring back Lucian’s wife and daughters from the grave. Lucian is more than willing to do anything to make that happen, despite a young girl who resembles an antique doll who repeatedly warns him not to, and that he will die if he continues.
The question for the reader is: Is Jolly a figment of Lucian’s troubled mind, or could he be some evil entity forcing him to comply?
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Ancient history lecturer Lucian Brufos has suffered the worst tragedy imaginable; his wife and twin daughters were killed in a car accident leaving him alone and so depressed he attempts to end his life. When he wakes he refuses to speak and is committed to a psychiatric ward for evaluation where he meets The Dark Man who calls himself Jolly. Jolly assures Lucian he can help bring Lucian’s family back from the grave, but to do so, he must find one of the world’s most famous wizards in history’s book of spells, The Grimoire of Caligari.
“Lucian,” he said softly that first time he spoke in his sickly syrupy voice. “Lucian, can you hear me?”
I turned slowly, feeling some invisible hand tugging on my forehead, so I had to look at him. He was sitting on a straight-backed chair alongside me, which I don’t recall being there before. He wore a long black jacket, the kind a pilgrim father might wear, a black shirt with a black string bow tie. I glanced down and noted his pants were black, as were the western-style boots with scuffed toes. He held what looked like an ancient Bible, though I didn’t see a cross embossed on its cover, so it may not have been a holy book. “There’s no need to speak if you don’t want to; just think of any words you might have and project them. I can hear your thoughts just as easily as if you speak, so don’t fret. Or you can nod for yes and shake for no if you prefer. Is that all right with you, Lucian?”
I recall, with absolute clarity, that I turned back to the window and thought, please, just go away and leave me alone.
And then, something weird happened. It was as clear as a bell tolling out midnight. I heard him speak, but this time, not with my ears, but in my mind. “Oh yes, Lucian, I could leave you alone to suffer in your silent world of pain and angst. But then, if I did, I wouldn’t be able to show you how you could be reunited with Connie and the twins, could I? There is a way I can help you do that, but the question is, are you brave enough to converse with me to find out how to reanimate their corpses?”
I left school very early to join a rock band, and spent a few years writing poems, short stories and music. I’ve won two short story writing competitions, had poems published, and enjoyed being a long-haired rock guitarist before life got in the way and I settled down, married and had children. I’ve owned my own businesses and managed large vehicle sales dealerships and observed people from all walks of life. It is these observations which has aided in creating characters. Contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Tell me if you think Jolly is real……..
Find all 13 stories at this link: A Friday the 13th Story #3